It was May when we first heard about the eighth album from Chicago MC Common. Back then, the disc was called Invincible Summer, with plans for release in the season for which it was named. “I created this music for the summer time,” Common told Billboard months ago. But after delays Common attributes to his time on the set of the forthcoming movie Terminator Salvation and a little huddle with his creative consultant, the album that resulted is now called Universal Mind Control, and it’s coming out December 9 from Geffen. We dialed up Common earlier this week to chat about the reasons for the switch, the benefits of working with geniuses, and just what Common plans to do for our next president. Oh yeah, we even asked about the fate of the Justice League movie. You’re welcome, nerds.
P: You must be excited to have this album coming out. It’s been a little while in the making.
C: Yeah, I actually started in late February, and the process was, I guess, the fastest I had ever created an album. Because I was really close to done by the middle of May, but I got the opportunity to be a part of Terminator Salvation, and I really had to focus on that, and had to do that for the whole summer pretty much. So I couldn’t complete the album, but it was next to completion. And from there, once I finished Terminator, I ended up finishing the music, and shooting the videos, and then we were able to roll and get a date set.
P: Obviously, some things have changed since we first heard about the album, starting with the title. What was the process like changing it from Invincible Summer to Universal Mind Control?
C: Man, the process was like me holding onto the title Invincible Summer, finding a reason why it really could still be called Invincible Summer, and then one of my creative friends– she has been working with me as a creative consultant– had listened to the album and she said, “Man, this album is not Invincible Summer, it’s Universal Mind Control!” And I said, “Man… yes!” I remember just taking a breath, because I wanted the name to change, but I’m very particular about titles, and I’m not just gonna change it. Titles are the first thing that I come up with for an album. And then from there, you know, I start working on it. So, the titles really mean a lot to me, and I was holding onto Invincible Summer, and another title that really came up that resonated with me– Universal Mind Control actually defines the album even more.
P: Did you have to change the music at all when you changed the name?
C: Nah, I didn’t change the music really, since basically all the songs that I’d recorded were all on Invincible Summer. What I was describing by “summer” was just a good feeling. When I think of summer, I think of a good feeling, and that’s what this music is there to generate. And I think that that’s why when I did get the title Universal Mind Control, it still felt very natural, and like it was supposed to be that title, Universal Mind Control.
P: What exactly is “universal mind control”? I’ve heard the song, but what about the record as a whole?
C: I really believe that that title is saying, “What I’m thinking in my mind and wanting you to feel, you will feel, because I’m gonna create music that will make you feel it.” And it’s also symbolic of the global sound that I wanted to create, something universal, something that would touch all parts of the world, ’cause that’s what it was inspired by. And I also wanna say, I just like the way that sounds: “universal mind control.” It sounds so futuristic, like a movement. So, as far as what I’m talking about on this album, it’s not a very light-hearted album. It’s simple. Some of the subject matters deal with sexual themes, deal with bein’ at the beach and barbecuing and having fun, some are just open-minded rap songs, and one I’m even talking to a stripper, and it’s called “Sex for Sugar”. Another song deals with, in a very upbeat way, my journey of being an artist, and the things that I went through to keep who I was, and to believe in who I was. It’s called “What a World”. It’s really a celebration of me believing in myself, no matter who said I should do what, it was like, “Hey, I believe in myself, and in sticking to what I believe in.” I’m able to holla ‘”what a world” now.
P: You worked with The Neptunes, and specifically Pharrell, a lot on this album. I know you’ve worked with him before, but this is the most extensive collaboration that you two have done. What’s it like working with him now to such an extent?
C: It’s such a fun, cool experience. I don’t have this with everybody, but you feel a magic that’s there. You feel like you’re making songs that will really turn out to be great songs. Like, from the incubation of the music to the idea for the chorus– which Pharrell usually plays a big part in– to Chad coming to add on to whatever we began, to me writing, it feels like Pharrell is the guide. He’s the captain of the production, of the music, and in trying, it becomes the great song. Because he’s just versatile and very diverse with melodies, he’s so knowledgeable in music, and he just has a cool dude disposition. There’s something real tasteful about him. And that in itself helps to create good music. I want to say they definitely have one of the most progressive sounds I ever worked with, and the fact that they can do it with no samples, it’s really incredible.
P: So what would you say the vibe of this album is, in terms of production? The songs I’ve heard seem very futuristic.
C: Yeah, I call a lot of this sound “the future” because the style of music, and what the music sounds like, is something you never heard before. I mean obviously when people hear “future,” they think lasers sometimes, they think “electronic.” That’s what we associate the future with. But along with that, the future is doing something that has not existed before. Like, something that does have a fresh feeling to it. And I believe, even though we have songs on this album like “Announcement” that are reminiscent of Biggie songs, it’s still new elements that made it unique, that made it fresh-sounding. Then you have a song like “U.M.C.” that really sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before in hip-hop. But if it does remind you of something, it reminds you of [Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force’s] “Planet Rock”, which is a future sound in itself.
With A Double-Album, A World Tour, Starring Roles In Two Movies And Several Ad Campaigns In the Works, The Heat Is On For Beyoncé. “I think we’ll sell 750,000 to 1 million copies [in the] first week,” says Music World head Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s father and manager. “I know that’s ambitious with the declining market, but Beyoncé is so focused on transitioning from pop star to icon that we’re paying attention to every single detail.”It’s a weighty word, icon—but Beyoncé is laying the groundwork to expand beyond being a commonplace superstar. Standard and deluxe versions of the album will reach stores Nov. 18. The standard disc has 11 songs and the deluxe edition includes five additional songs along with the videos for the set’s first two singles, the guitar-led “If I Were a Boy” and the bouncy “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”
“I want to be an icon,” Beyoncé says. “That’s why this is a double-album. One side has songs that are more mainstream and another has my more traditional R&B songs for my fans who’ve been there the whole time. Some of it sounds like Barbra Streisand, Karen Carpenter and The Beatles around the 1970s.” The singer worked with everyone from The Neptunes to Danjahandz and after recording around 75 tracks, she chose 16. In the end, the two CDs, “I Am . . . “ and “Sasha Fierce,“ couldn’t be more different. The “I Am . . . ” tracks collectively sound airy and primed for top 40 radio. The songs—like “Halo,” which is likely the second single from “I Am . . . “—cover relatable themes like finding strength in one’s significant other. Such songwriters as Toby Gad, Amanda Ghost and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds deliver solid, well-written mainstream tracks.
BET J will bestow prolific emcee and actor Common with the first Journey Award when the BET J VIRTUAL AWARDS makes its broadcast debut on BET J on Tuesday, November 25 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Common will be recognized for his phenomenal music and film credits, and outstanding philanthropy efforts. BET J will also award 16 nominees, who rate superlative in their respective categories in a non-traditional awards show delivering the latest elements in today’s virtual technology. Hosted by actress Nia Long and comedian Chris Spencer, the digital network’s first annual “virtual” broadcast brings viewers a star-studded line up of musical performances by Robin Thicke, Estelle, Erykah Badu, Wyclef Jean and Raheem DeVaughn among others, and celebrity appearances by award presenters Terrence Howard, Jermaine Dupri, TLC, Eric Benet, En Vogue, Darrin Henson and BET’s Jeff Johnson to name a few!
With A Bathing Ape celebrating its 15th birthday this month, Pharrell’s BFF reveals five contradictions from the planet of the Bapes. “We used to sell to something like 40 different stores in Japan… But around 1998, I decided to just cut back to our one store in Tokyo. It didn’t take long until the sales from one store were as good as when we sold throughout the country. That made me realize that this was something bigger than I had imagined. I don’t think our clothes are so expensive; we make things in a very similar system to high-fashion designers… But we are interested in casual clothes. People get our jeans, tees and sweats confused with mass-produced consumer items. We respect the spirit of what we want to do over financial considerations—that’s consistent with our motto, I think.
I sort of fell out of touch with hip-hop… But the thing that got me enthusiastic about it again in the late ’90s was the South, especially Cash Money. So, Lil’ Wayne wearing the clothes I had made was amazing. I am very pleased if he is known for wearing Bape. I have a girlfriend, and we have been together for about three years. She is a well-known actress in Japan [Riho Makise], and people are aware of the relationship… But she has her own career, and I don’t want to interfere in that. So, there is a conscious decision to avoid being seen together in public too often. I never read blogs. So, I don’t even hear the criticism about us doing Nike take-offs. I’d like to say that other brands doing Bape knockoffs shows that the brand is recognized and desired… But in reality, it’s really annoying to have to deal with it.
Teriyaki Boyz (Ilmari, Ryo-Z, Verbal, Wise & Nigo the Founder & DJ of the group) are working on a new album titled ‘Serious Japanese’ due January 29th. The album will be also available with a DVD on the Limited Edition. They already confirmed their first single called ‘Work That feat. Pharrell’ produced by The Neptunes which is due January 14th available. Their debut album from Def Jam Recordings and (B)APE Sounds titled ‘Beef Or Chicken’ was produced by an array of rap and electronica producers including Adrock of the Beastie Boys, Cornelius, Cut Chemist, Daft Punk, Dan The Automator, DJ Premier, DJ Shadow, Just Blaze, Mark Ronson, and The Neptunes.
Thanks To Neosoul
- Work That feat. Pharrell (2009) (January 14th) (Single)
- Serious Japanese (2009) (January 28th) (Album)
- Serious Japanese (2009) (Limited Edition) (January 28th) (Album)
Their Previous Work
Teriyaki Boyz – Beef Or Chicken (2005)
– Cho Large feat. Pharrell
Fast & Furious: Tokio Drift OST (2006)
– Tokyo Drift (Fast & Furious)
Teriyaki Boyz – Zock On! (CDS) (2008)
- Zock On! feat. Pharrell, Busta Rhymes & Lisa
Idle Warship (Brooklyn emcee Talib Kweli, Philadelphia singer Res (Shareese Renèe Ballard) and the new member Canadian singer Krista Gonzales aka Graph Nobel) are currently recording their debut album, Party Robot, which is tentatively planned for a 2009 release. They just released their debut single ‘Black Snake Moan’ on their myspace page and there are rumours that The Neptunes have worked with Idle Warship, so I checked heard ‘Black Snake Moan’ and it does sound like a Neptunes Track a bit. Could this be a Neptunes Track, what y’all think.
Idle Warship – Black Snake Moan
On set of Thicke’s second single off ‘Something Else’ ‘Sweetest Love’
It wasn’t so long ago that everything Pharrell Williams touched turned to platinum. At one point in 2003, Pharrell and his childhood friend Chad Hugo – working under the name The Neptunes – had produced nearly 20 per cent of the songs playing on British radio. Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg and Justin Timberlake are just a few of the stars to have called upon them for their unique sound. With their own band, N¤E¤R¤D – in which they are joined by Shay Haley – they have also enjoyed success. Their 2001 debut In Search Of…, a genre-spanning mix of hard rock, funk and hip-hop, is a thrilling record in spite of its inconsistencies, and 2004’s Fly Or Die was also well received. Yet their star has waned – Pharrell’s debut solo album in 2006 failed to live up to expectations, and The Neptunes sound no longer dominates. When N¤E¤R¤D’s third album, Seeing Sounds, was released this summer without much fanfare, the question was asked; has Pharrell lost his touch? On the evidence of the reception that greeted the band tonight, the answer is a resounding negative. The main reason for this is Pharrell himself. Live, the skinny 35-year-old from Virginia is a true star, especially with the ladies. He plays up to it, too, blowing kisses into the crowd.
Hugo was absent (which went unexplained), but the night wasn’t just a one-man show. Alongside Haley and another MC (Fam-Lay), the live band (which included two drum-kits) was impressively tight. Despite his cool demeanour, Pharrell’s knack is connecting with the crowd. Many bands tell the audience they want to party with them, but N¤E¤R¤D seem to mean it. “I don’t see any signs saying no crowd surfing,” Pharrell suggested, and later he invited three guys from the audience on stage to dance during the frantic “Spaz“. When one whispered into his ear, Pharrell said, “No, you’re my idol.” At the end of the night Pharrell repeated the trick, but this time with a dozen or so women. Finishing with “Everyone Nose” and “She Wants To Move“, with a little bit of the riff from The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” thrown in for good measure, the crowd never stopped bouncing. The lack of an encore after a relatively short set was a touch disappointing, but it’s never a bad move to leave an audience wanting more. Pharrell and his posse may not currently be as all-conquering as they once were, but on this night they proved that their star quality endures.
“Check me out on the website ThinkCommon.com, y’all can get the whole album for 99 cents the day the album is released, y’all can’t beat that, my music is priceless. [Laughs]”. Common was recently speaking in North Carolina, where he caught up with HipHopDX. There, the Chicago veteran emcee talked about his forthcoming album Universal Mind Control. “I’m really excited about it and for me as long as I’ve been making music I always wanted to challenge myself. This album is a lot of free music, a lot of feel good music. I didn’t overthink the subject matters and made music you can dance too, ride out too, and have fun too. I wanted to give people something to smile about, enjoy, and let loose.” Within Universal Mind Control, Common says he has a song that really embodies the political climate America witnessed earlier this month in his home city. “I have a song called ‘Changes’ and it’s a reflection of what I see in the future, it’s changes going on right now.
The youth really have a opportunity due to the fact we have Barack Obama in office. It’s due to the fact that people of all colors can see a black men, with his black women, and family can really do something powerful and lead this country. I wrote it probably five or six months ago, and it really fitting for the climate of the world right now.” Lastly, as artists ranging from Mos Def and 50 Cent have traded fourth quarter releases for a much less crowded 2009, Common explained his own push-back. “I originally was starting this album as an EP which was like a six song collection of songs. It was called Invincible Summer and I wanted to bring it out during the summertime. I did this film Terminator Salvation and I couldn’t finish the album in period I wanted to. I said, ‘Man Universal Mind Control is the perfect title for the sound of the music. UMC fits the theme of what the album is about. That sounds like something from back in the days to something futuristic.
From Chester’s Myspace: Attention San Diego Chester French Fans – Free Ticket Opportunity. Hey San Diego Chester French Fans, We’re playing a show at the House of Blues with Matisyahu and Flobots tomorrow night and we’d like to invite one lucky fan to come see us for free. We have one free ticket available and, not only that, we’re extending an invitation to come to the show early and hang out with the band as well! Just send us a message on Myspace with the subject “SAN DIEGO FREE TICKET” and, if you’re the lucky winner, we’ll give you further instructions. So respond ASAP!
-DA & Max
You may not know him yet, but Kevin Rudolf is on his way to regular rotation on your iPod. Signed to Cash Money/Universal Republic earlier this year, the 25-year-old singer/songwriter/producer released “Let It Rock.” The single, which features Lil’ Wayne, recently peaked at No. 23 on the Pop 100 and No. 33 on the Hot 100. Now, the New York native is ready to release “City,” which he describes as a “conceptual album that follows the story of my experiences Ð it’s like a coming of age story in NYC.” “In The City” was produced entirely by Rudolf except for one track handled by The Neptunes’ Chad Hugo. “We were in the studio mixing one day and he walked in the room and said he wanted to do something with us,” Rudolf recalls. “We banged some music out that same night!” Chad Hugo co-produced the song “She Can Get It”.
The set features songs like the seven-minute ballad “Great Escape” and “N.Y.C.,” which will be included in the soundtrack to “Fighting,” a film starring Terrence Howard due later this year. To help promote the album, Rudolf will start a promotional radio tour next month and plans on scheduling another tour before 2008 is over. “I’ve been hearing some crazy stuff, like ‘Let It Rock’ is Ryan Seacrest and Lindsay Lohan’s favorite song right now. I have been very blessed and feel really lucky,” says Rudolf. “There is no info or pictures of me anywhere, yet the track has taken a life of its own. The music is truly speaking for itself.”
It’s easy for rappers to claim they’re recession-proof, but only a few MCs are telling the truth. You’d think that a person like Common—a thoughtful rap veteran who’s never gone platinum—would be suffering the most during a time when hip-hop albums are flopping faster than Kimbo Slice. But Lonnie Rashid topsy-turvyed the game. His last two albums, Be and Finding Forever , have taken him to new commercial and critical heights, and his consistent acting roles have turned him into a seriously promising Hollywood player. So what does that all add up to in rap’s dollars and cents? A spot on the Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings list, as well as a role in next summer’s potential blockbuster Terminator 4. But Comm still loves good music, and he’s finally made some time in his busy schedule to unveil his long overdue Invincible Summer-turnt-Universal Mind Control album, which drops December 9. We spoke with the Chicago MC weeks before the release to get his thoughts on No I.D, Kanye vs. Pharrell, dating (or not dating) Serena Williams, and our new President-elect Barack O’ Bama.
Complex: So December 9th is the day for Universal Mind Control. What can we expect?
Common: You’re going to get something you’ve never heard from Common and in hip-hop as a whole. It’s a fresh new sound, and I think it’s the future of hip-hop in many ways. We did a lot of electronic stuff, and a lot of different elements and styles. It’s the future of music, but it also deals with the basics of it. We were thinking about the future the whole time, but it turned out to sound like “Planet Rock.” It goes to show you how ahead of the game Afrika Bambaataa was, and the influence they had on us.
Complex: When you renamed the album, was there any altering to the music itself?
Common: Nah. The funny part about it is a friend of mine that works with me, when I told him that I’m not going to change the title of the album from Invincible Summer; I was like I’m just going to keep it as Invincible Summer and deep down inside I wanted to change the name a little bit but I didn’t have another title that was better. And she said, “After hearing the album, it sounds like Universal Mind Control. And it was like a light bulb went off. It does sound more like Universal Mind Control. You know, focusing on the essence but creating futuristic things with it. That’s what it sounds like.
Complex: You have been working with Pharrell and Kanye a lot. Where did those two differ the most?
Common: I would say Pharrell, first of all he does have a production partner but regardless he comes up from scratch with the music so the process is different. He just might come in and create some music from scratch. Where as with Kanye, we listen to the samples and decide what we may do, and he may chop something up and flip it or we may play something that’s been inspired by samples. Basically what I’m saying is the process is a little longer with Kanye, as far as creating. And Kanye is definitely like, “Let’s go in this direction” or “Let’s go in that direction.” Where as Pharrell, it’s more suggestive. I’m trying to think of the biggest differences because they have more similarities than differences. They’re both really talented at coming up with hooks and giving you a direction for the song. Like, “Man, maybe you should rhyme like this.” Or they might reference something. I would call them geniuses.
According to Paste Magazine, Chester French collaborated with the French artists Yi Zhou & Singer Charlotte Gainsbourg for their album ‘Love The Future’ and it seems that the ‘Idle Warship’ collabo ‘Fall Back’ from early this year will make it on the album or is it a new tune only with Talib?. “Chester French’s five track EP, She Loves Everybody, is due in stores Nov. 18 (and is already available digitally). Drawing its name from the band’s ’60s-pop, Motown-esque first single, the EP also includes the group’s song “The Jimmy Choos.” The band’s biggest fans outside of Williams? HBO. Both songs have been featured on past episodes of its hit Entourage. Williams does his part on the EP as well, contributing a Neptunes Remix of the titular track. Both tracks will be featured on the duo’s long-in-the-works debut album, Love The Future, which will hit stores in February of 2009.”
“The album boasts some impressively eclectic collaborations: rapper Talib Kweli, multifaceted (Chinese-born) French artist Yi Zhou and French actress/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg (star of The Science Of Sleep, amongst other roles). The album is a collection of the duo’s diverse musical influences, from hip-hop to rock, swing to jazz, Motown to country. And the types of instruments featured span from the usual suspects (guitar, keyboards) to the not-so-usual (French horn, theremin, timpani). But they stress Love the Future will work as a cohesive statement, rather than just a bunch of different musical genres and singles strung together. “We try to be as open as possible. There’s not a single genre of music we discriminate against. We just hate shitty music,” Drummey said in a recent statement. “What we tried to do is make something musically diverse but also unified. And we did the best job of that ever in the history of music.” Confidence is key, right?”
Chester French – The Love The Future Project (2009) (February)
Guests: Yi Zhou, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Idle Warship…
– The Jimmy Choo’s
– Beneath The Veil
– Pleasure Squad
– Not Over You
– She Loves Everybody
– The Sister Song
– C’mon On My Own
– Fall Back feat. Idle Warship
– My Party
– Out At The Compound
– Over The Moon
Years ago I found a old ‘Ray J. – This Ain’t A Game’ tracklist way before the album came out, where it said ‘Wait A Minute feat. Lil’ Kim (Remix)’, so I was always wondering why Remix, ain’t that the actualt tune? Well it’s not.. We finally managed to get the Ray J. tune without Lil’ Kim from the ‘Wait A Minute VLS’ from 2000 thanks to ThaG. This is actualy the original album version, but they decided to put Lil’ Kim on it.
Ray J. – Wait A Minute feat. Pharrell (Vinyl Version) (2000)
Ray J. – Wait A Minute feat. Pharrell & Lil’ Kim (Album Version) (2001)
Months ago we all heard the rumour about Pharrell being a daddy, well this might not be a rumour anymore because Swizz Beatz sat with Angie Martinez yesterday at Hot 97 where he confirmed that Pharrell has a son named ‘Rocket’?. “Shoutout to Pharrell, to his new son ‘Rocket’ “. Check it out at the 5:40 mark. Thanks To Meg.
Here’s the ‘She Loves Everybody Steve Aoki House Remix’ Off the ‘EP’.
Make Sure To Cop That Shyt
Chester French – She Loves Everybody (Steve Aoki Remix)
Check out Steve Aoki’s version off Thicke’s ‘Magic’
Robin Thicke – Magic (Steve Aoki Smooth Operator Remix)
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